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Brad Keselowski goes around and makes contact with the wall while trying to pass Matt Kenseth.
Quick diagnosis of problem key to keeping No. 2 on track to victory RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota JOLIET, Ill. -- If you made a mistake at work, would you admit it and get it corrected, or just hope that the boss didn't notice and everything eventually would be OK? A member of Brad Keselowski' s pit crew was faced with such a decision in the heat of Sunday's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener at Chicagoland Speedway , and the outcome proved to be a pivotal moment in the No. 2's run to Victory Lane. After a pit stop under caution on Lap 182 of 267, Hunter Masling, a tire changer on the No. 2 team felt like he didn't get the tire on tight enough. Instead of burying that information, he let it be known and crew chief Paul Wolfe was faced with his own decision: bring the No. 2 back in to get it corrected or risk running with a loose wheel. So the No. 2 was brought back to pit road, giving up a prime second-place position in the process. "We had an issue on pit road, got us a little bit behind," Wolfe said. "But it was good that the issue we had, we came down and fixed it before we went back green." "The changer felt like he didn't get 'em tight. I think that was key, that he stood up and said, 'I feel like we're going to have a loose wheel here.' To come in and fix that under yellow was much less of a penalty than if we got going green and had a vibration." Keselowski restarted back in the pack, but it turned out to be worth it to avoid further problems. Keselowski , who was in 15th place on Lap 195, gradually made up ground and got in position for the win. By Lap 240 he was in fourth place and ready to make a move. And the two restarts toward the end of the race gave him the perfect opportunity to establish his dominance. "There were times in the race where I felt like we were the best car, then times where I felt like we were off a bit," Wolfe said. "Overall I knew if we got our adjustments right at the end, we still had a shot at it. "The way the caution fell there at the end we were fortunate to get a good break there that gained us a few more spots ... and lined us up with the leaders. ( Brad ) did a great job on that restart. I'd seen our strength there all day." Rebounding from the loose-tire mishap proved to be the second comeback for Keselowski on a day when had to start 25 because the lineup was set by practice speeds when Friday's qualifying session was rained out. The only Chase driver with a worse starting position than Keselowski was his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano , who was 28th. It was an ironic twist for a team that had qualified so well throughout the season, but Keselowski had the car to move through the field. "I knew once we got to fourth with 30 or 40 to go, it was going to be about executing restarts," Keselowski said. "The last one, once we had gotten the lead, we just put it all together, and that was very, very special." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Chase standings leader wins pole at New Hampshire RELATED: Qualifying results LOUDON, N.H. -- You couldn't script a better beginning to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for Brad Keselowski , who showed no sign of stopping his relentless run toward a second championship on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Fresh from a dramatic victory in last Sunday's first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway , Keselowski blew away the track record in winning the pole for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at the Magic Mile (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). The Coors Light Pole Award was Keselowski's fifth of the season, the eight of his career and his third in 11 starts at the 1.058-mile flat track. In the second and final round of knockout qualifying, Keselowski covered the distance in 27.090 seconds (140.598 mph) to edge Jamie McMurray (140.437 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. Kevin Harvick qualified third for the second Chase race at 140.065 mph. "The kind of track is kind of right in my wheelhouse, right in our team’s wheelhouse," said Keselowski , who won the July race at New Hampshire in dominating fashion. "We had this race circled before the Chase started, and we felt decent about Chicago, but we really felt like this was a race of emphasis for us to get a win and get out of the first bracket (three-race elimination round). "It's good, right? We just want to keep it going." Despite the excellent performances of the first two weeks, Keselowski isn't ready to claim ownership of the title just yet. "With the resets (after each round), the success of today really means nothing come Homestead (where the four remaining eligible drivers will race for the title, with the highest finisher among the four claiming the prize)," Keselowski said. "It's great. It's positive momentum. It's everything you want to do, and it’s everything you think you should do. "But when it resets, it resets, and nothing that you've done in the past really matters, as long as you're eligible for the bracket. I'm a long, long way from using the word favorite or feeling overly confident." McMurray, who did not make the Chase field, was pleased with his effort in qualifying. "I felt like, in my first run, I didn't get everything out of the car and maybe left a little bit on the table," McMurray said. "The first run I didn't think I got it all, but the second run out (in the final round), the second lap was really good. "Honestly, I came off Turn 4 and tried to run three laps and tried to just drive a little bit harder, but the tires just wouldn’t hold up for another quick lap." Chase drivers who will start in the top 12 on Sunday include Denny Hamlin (fourth), Kyle Busch (fifth), Jimmie Johnson (sixth), Joey Logano (seventh), Carl Edwards (eighth), Ryan Newman (ninth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (11th) Keselowski led the first of the two qualifying sessions with a lap at 139.614 mph (27.281 seconds), a scant .005 seconds faster than the No. 99 of fellow Ford driver Edwards. All told, 26 drivers in the 30-minute first round broke the track qualifying record of 138.130 mph (27.574 seconds) set by Kyle Busch on July 11, 2014. Earnhardt Jr. was the 12th and last driver to advance to the second session with a lap at 138.987 mph (27.404 mph). Chase drivers Jeff Gordon (13th), Kurt Busch (15th), Matt Kenseth (16th), Kasey Kahne (17th), Aric Almirola (21st), Greg Biffle (26th) and AJ Allmendinger (27th) failed to advance to the 10-minute final round. Notes: The track qualifying record was the 19th set this year in Sprint Cup Series time trials, in the first year of the knockout format. ... Keselowski has accounted for four of those records. ... The last two times Keselowski has won a pole for a Sprint Cup race (at Kentucky and Richmond), he has also won the race. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Brad Keselowski talks about making a wild pass to take the lead and hanging on for the win.
Brad Keselowski battles Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson in the closing laps to win the first race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase at Chicagoland Speedway.
Alan Cavanna chats with Brad Keselowski in Victory Lane about his daring move to take the lead and what it means to punch his ticket to the Contender Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Ride along with Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick as Keselowski makes a three-wide pass to set up a win in Chicagoland.
Brad Keselowski talks about advancing to the next round of the Chase and the three-wide pass that gave him the lead at Chicagoland Speedway.